WAUKESHA - Sophomore wing Jayden Hardy from Nicolet registered a double-double by finishing with 18 points and 20 rebounds as the third-seeded UWM-Waukesha men's basketball team defeated UW-Fox Valley 96-51 in a Wisconsin Collegiate Conference East quarterfinal playoff game at the UWM-Waukesha Field House on Wednesday night.
It was a season-high point total for high-powered UWM-Waukesha, which won its second straight to improve to 15-10 overall.
The Cougars will travel to face second-seeded UWGB-Marinette, 15-4 overall, in a WCC East semifinal game at 2 p.m. Saturday with the winner advancing to the Final Four at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells on Feb. 23.
UWM-Waukesha outscored the Cyclones 51-28 in what proved to be a decisive first half, setting the tone with a momentum-building 8-0 run in the opening minutes.
The Cougars showcased their depth and balance with nine players reaching the scoring column, including four in double figures.
Sophomore guard Jackson Kunnert from Pewaukee contributed 18 points with six baskets from 3-point range, five rebounds, five assists and three steals for UWM-Waukesha, which converted 12 3-pointers, generated a season-high 31 assists and shot 47.1 percent from field-goal range. Freshman wing Tyler Torosian from New Berlin West had 14 points with freshman wing Jeremy Ninham from Nicolet chipping in 11 points with 3 of 4 free throws, six assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Junior post player Kurt Meyle from St. John's Northwestern Military Academy collected eight points, nine rebounds and an assist for the Cougars, who asserted themselves inside by scoring 54 points in the paint.
Freshman guard Jake Antczak from Mukwonago had eight points with two 3-pointers, a team-best nine assists and two steals.
Freshman guard Jalen Black from Dominican had seven points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Freshman wing Makal Evans from Milwaukee Messmer had seven points with freshman wing Brad Scheff from New Berlin West adding five points and five rebounds.
UWM-Waukesha head coach Adam Ligocki, who guided the Cougars to the WCC state championship in 2016-17, was pleased with the way his team seized the opportunity to open the playoffs on its home court and made a statement.
"We put ourselves in position to host a first-round playoff game, rose to the occasion and took advantage of it," said Ligocki, who has a 101-51 career record in six seasons at the helm (earning his prestigious 100th victory in a 65-54 home-court nonconference regular-season finale win over Maranatha Baptist on Feb. 8). "Our energy and focus were outstanding tonight. We played unselfishly, shared the basketball and everyone contributed. Getting that first taste of playoff experience as a team should help as we prepare to face UW-Marinette on Saturday."
UW-Fox Valley ended the season 5-15 overall.
COUGAR FAST FACTS
What: The third-seeded UWM-Waukesha men's basketball team defeated UW-Fox Valley 96-51 in a Wisconsin Collegiate Conference first-round playoff game at the UWM-Waukesha Field House on Wednesday night.
Record: 15-10 overall
Up Next: The Cougars will travel to face second-seeded UWGB-Marinette in a WCC East semifinal game at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Scoring Leaders: Jayden Hardy (18 points), Jackson Kunnert (18 points), Tyler Torosian (14 points), Jeremy Ninham (11 points), Kurt Meyle (8 points), Jake Antczak (8 points)
Notable: UWM-Waukesha outscored the Cyclones 51-28 in what proved to be a decisive first half, setting the tone with a momentum-building 8-0 run in the opening minutes.